DiRT 3: Super Review

  • Superlative quality racing game
  • Offline splitscreen is brilliant
  • Fiendishly addictive score challenges
  • Grittier, muddier look is less fun
  • Menu screens are a bit drab
  • Rivals' in-game chatter sorely missed


Time to get DiRTy

No matter. These are minor complaints and, compared to any other racing series you could mention, DiRT 3 is way out in front to the point where its competitors aren’t even eating its dust any more - that settled long ago. We’re looking at undoubtedly one of the finest games on the market - not just racing games, but video games in general. Show this game in action to anyone and they’re going to be amazed. It's like a CG movie of an off-road highlights reel, which is exactly what a modern racing game should be.

Above: I'm racing against a freakin' bobsled down a snowy forest track. Oh, and that's how you do trees

However, while scaling back the cringeworthy dude-speak (still slightly evident) and the festival presentation has undoubtedly made it more credible for hardcore rally fans, it does seem to be at the cost of some cohesion. The most surprising thought that came to my mind while I was playing was how much I want to play DiRT 2 again - for the atmosphere, the sunshine and the more involving career structure. 

DiRT 3 is more serious. Its about racing beautiful machines in hostile environments, battling the elements and each other while playing to the crowd at the same time. It oozes classic, score-chasing videogame immersion without even acting like a videogame, leaving you focused solely on the fragile relationship between your car and the surface of the road. The result, whether you stay on or not, is magnificent.

20 May, 2011


Is it better than...

DiRT 2? No. They're about equal. DiRT 2 is just as good-looking, just as fast and just as fun to play, but has arguably superior structure and presentation. DiRT 3 has new weather effects and times of day, YouTube uploads, split-screen two-player and brilliant Gymkhana action and the rallying is indeed better this time round. Oh, and DiRT 3's Monaco races are verging on Race Driver GRID, so it scores extra points for that.


MX vs ATV Alive: Yes. Comparing the two just goes to show how far ahead of everyone else the DiRT series has become. At least DiRT 3 has a single player career mode. It doesn't have bikes, mind, and everyone knows how much better bikes make games. But seriously, if it's MX vs ATV or this, there's no contest. DiRT 3 is infinitely superior.


WRC: Yes. Even if you long for a dedicated rally game and couldn't care less about this Gymkhana nonsense, the gulf in quality is massive. You'll have more fun just playing the rally stages here and racing against people online than playing through the entire WRC game. Not that it's bad (far from it). Just that DiRT is better.



Just for you, Metacritic!

The racing action is peerless, with Codemasters' racers still clearly in a class of their own. But the style has perhaps swung too far from the Americanised festival atmosphere and it's much more sober as a result. Still absolutely worth your money, mind.

More Info

Release date: May 24 2011 - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
May 24 2011 - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Racing
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Codemasters
Franchise: Colin McRae
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Lyrics
PEGI Rating:


  • AbhayS - May 24, 2012 3:26 a.m.

    DiRT 3 was proof that this series has grown up and has established a true sense of identity for itself. While a few features such as gymkhana aren't really up to par, overall this is probably the best mass appeal rally game there is. Looking forward to Dirt Showdown and i've already pre-ordered my copy on the XBOX from here ;)
  • Spybreak8 - May 29, 2011 6:14 p.m.

    I've got Microsoft's Wireless Racing Wheel and the feedback is pretty strong but I don't know.
  • darkpigraph - May 26, 2011 8:13 a.m.

    Been loving it so far, even the gymkhana which i thought i'd hate because i routinely suck at things like drift trials etc. But i was wondering, does anyone else find the force feedback to be a little bit iffy in this? As in it doesn't fight back at times when you really expect it to eg when you're countersteering for a slide - i use a driving force pro and base my expectations around playing Dirt 2 and GT5, and even with wheel weight and FF set to 100%, it doesn't quite have the violence you'd expect - i'm asking because maybe it's a problem with my setup, for instance the power cable sometimes pulls out by accident, but this is not the case here, because FF is there, just not very pronounced.
  • Spybreak8 - May 26, 2011 1:42 a.m.

    The plethora, already, of youtube videos from this game is astounding.
  • hester2 - May 25, 2011 2:34 a.m.

    You know a game is amazing when my only complaint is the loading times. You know what would make it even better? If it were Grid 2. Seriously, where is that game? Is it even going to happen? My only issue with this review was the statement that Codemasters makes the best racing games. I'd say they make the best sim or pretend-sim game (it depends on the assists you're using). In terms of fun factor, though, I'd say Criterion has them beat. I still haven't found a racer I enjoyed as much as Burnout Paradise.
  • Imgema - May 24, 2011 12:38 p.m.

    @Grim08 ...yeahh except that i hated the "festival" style for the menus. It was slow and after the 10th time you had to change a race it was boring and tiresom. Also, i hate that, for America, everything has to be like a big circus or kid's show. I'd rather have more stylish, professional, serious looking menus like WRC 4 on PS2, these were awesome.
  • hanktherapper - May 23, 2011 12:15 a.m.

    I'm going to admit the only reason I bought Dirt 2 was because it had tracks in Southern Utah. After a frustrating few hours getting used to off road racing, I quickly became addicted and played the game for three weeks when I was on medical leave last year. The only thing I hated was racing with the trucks. I'm really looking forward to this game and didn't know it was coming out so soon.
  • CharlieFockstrot - May 22, 2011 7:07 p.m.

    Personally, I found it embarrassing being called by name in Dirt 2, I changed it to a stupid nickname. Maybe it's just me but I found it patronising and insincere, if I was 8 years old I probably would have thought it was 'cool'.
  • AuthorityFigure - May 21, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    This series of games just keeps getting better. Codemasters are terrific at this stuff.
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 21, 2011 12:13 p.m.

    Dang, I did indeed say I would mention steering wheels! I've only played the 360 version so far, so can't vouch for the Driving Force GT, but the 360 wheel is terrific. You might need to use the options menu to boost the wheel stiffness a tad, but it's just personal preference. It's responsive, precise, and (of course) fun. I found it easier to control the car than when using it with DiRT 2, but the handbrake being set to a face button is still a bit cumbersome. Hope that answers your questions!
  • ElwoodFiore - May 21, 2011 10:27 a.m.

    Wait for forza 4. Drift assist will be added.
  • smallberry - May 21, 2011 3:50 a.m.

    Even if the game was awful I'd buy it solely for Group B. Thanks for the review Justin.
  • marioman50 - May 21, 2011 3:35 a.m.

    I'm disappointed to hear about the change in presentation. I liked Dirt 2's style, and to see that they went from a rock/party atmosphere to a more boring Forza/Gran Turismo tone in this game is a bit saddening.
  • TastiestJamb - May 21, 2011 1:27 a.m.

    Nice review! It's awesome to see the review up so early, I'll definitely be picking this one up next week. Hats off to you for pulling off that Gymkhana challenge... I can tell this one is going to be the source of some frustration.
  • blocpartier - May 20, 2011 11:29 p.m.

    er, I meant the last paragraph. But you get my point.
  • blocpartier - May 20, 2011 11:28 p.m.

    Your last sentence makes it sound like Codemasters nailed it. I think that's exactly what a racing game SHOULD be.
  • wolfboy20 - May 20, 2011 10:42 p.m.

    Gr8 Review!!!! and how is the online play?
  • insertdisk - May 20, 2011 10:33 p.m.

    Oh god i do so want. The sound of that ford in the Gymkhana video was fantastic.
  • Timothy_Lemon - May 20, 2011 8:31 p.m.

    props to the chap from the gymkahna video, after playing dirt3 for several hours today, i'd agree that the gymkahna stages are tough as nails to get right. this game is excellent... apart from Christian's orrible voice :)
  • RareHero - May 20, 2011 7:56 p.m.

    DiRT 2 was an excellent game, but was far too action sports for my taste. I wish things would go back to pure rallying as in CMR, but DiRT 3 is as close to that as the series has been in the last several years. Can't wait till Tuesday...

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